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Friday, August 30, 2013

Where is my stitchy bug? Heck where am I?

Well, to let everyone know, I am still alive and around. I know it's been close to (if not already past [too lazy to check right now, ok I checked it was Feb. 2013]) a year 8 months since I posted here, longer than that since I posted with any regularity. I haven't been stitching much at all. I put a few stitches (total of maybe 50 stitches all told) in a couple of my WIP's here and there, but nothing major at all. *Pictures people making a a cross with their hands and yelling at her: "No stitching?!?! Sacrilege! Back you floss deserter, back you project abuser, back I say!" [raven giggles at herself]* See? I have lost my mind I tell you!

Another odd image: 2 rather official looking ladies at my front door dressed in black suits, complete with sunglasses (think Men In Black, only women in the suits rather than men) and ID wallets. Their badges have the symbol for cross-stitch of a hoop with fabric and a needle parked in said fabric. The words surrounding them are "International Needlework Association: Cross-stitch Div.: Project Protection Agent". They hand me a court order allowing them to confiscate my stash, WIPs, UFOs, and even my Ghingers for their own protection from my abusive neglect. "Now Mrs. Shadowborne if you would please surrender your Needlework ID, Scissors License and Precious Metals Needle Approval Cards. Yes than, very well.  Thank you very much and have a lovely day!" (trust me, it seemed much funnier in my head...oh well never said I was good at comedic writing  LOL)

I signed up for an exchange (due back in February) in the hopes it would help me regain my stitching bug. I have stitched on it. It sits three-quarters completed (would still need put together etc) in my stitching bag (along with 5 other WIPs) and I just can't find the energy to finish it. It is so late and I feel so horrible about it. I have told my partner and she is being so wonderful and understanding about it. My brain however uses it to beat me up. Why does depression have to include mental self-flagellation via self-insults and loads and loads and loads of guilt? It doesn't help, just makes it worse.

What happened? Depression is what happened.

The truth is: I just haven't been able to drum up the desire to stitch, or when I had a tiny inkling of desire, I couldn't drum up the energy to actually do it. My depression finally hit the really bad stages where even the sadness and despair go away, leaving nothing behind....emptiness.

Those woods I posted about a while back, I got lost again I stayed lost and couldn't find my way out. I knew my depression was bad, but I didn't realize it could get even worse, but it did.  I'm not sure that I have found a way out yet, but I am at least forcing myself to try to resume activities I know I used to enjoy doing. But it is so hard to fight back when I can't really do anything but sit in bed all the time. The pain has been insane, and pain like that really does mess up the chemical balance of the brain and nervous system.  In some ways the depression and it's accompanying dissociation is comforting because it removes a lot of emotions, thus I don't feel guilt, emotional pain etc. Instead I just feel empty, vast sweeping blackness..nothing at all. I've had a day here and there where I did have some feelings, but not often, not for long, and not real good feelings/thoughts. Though, there is one ray of sunshine finally: those days with some emotion have been increasing in frequency so that's good. I know that in order to feel better, I have to allow myself to feel at all. Of course the first feelings will include all the guilt, anger, frustration, fear etc. that I have been hiding from and the idea of feeling those things in order to move through them is extremely daunting.

I have days where some feelings are coming back, and when they do I am struggling to let them, to not shove them back down. It is terrifying. Part of me truly wants to stay in the woods, the deepest darkest part where there were no real emotions more often than not. My last post, I tried to end on an improved note. I *did* go stitch (about 15 stitches before giving up) that day though.

Thank you to all those who left me such wonderful comments! I read them all, obsessively more than once because they give me a warm & good feeling inside which is better than the empty nothing I had 99% of the time. I fully intended to reply to each one via email and when I realized a few weeks had gone by I just didn't know what to do. Reply so late? Let it go without telling them what their words mean to you? The self talk turned into how horrible I am, useless, etc etc., and I became afraid of the response I'd get if I replied after such a long time. I felt I would deserve it whether it be an angry/upset/disappointed/whatever response to my reply or no response at all. So, as with everything else for the last few years, I did nothing and just used them as more ammunition for those times when my brain played "beat up the birdie girl!". I truly am sorry for not responding to those comments before now and I appreciate them a great deal, thank you thank you thank you!

I am not posting any of this to make people feel bad for me or anything like that. I am posting it (terrified but going to do it anyway even if it means I have to ask DH to click the publish button) for a few different reasons. One to explain where I've been. Two, to release some of my feelings in hopes my doing so may do some good for someone else. There are other reasons as well, but I think I've rambled quite too much about my depression in what is supposed to be my stitching blog. If you've read this far, Thank You and give yourself a pat on the back, Well Done! (and no I do not mean that sarcastically). I appreciate it :)

Ok this is my 9th attempted post that has been sitting in the drafts folder for a while. It has taken me 2 weeks to write this one it as it is. "OK publish raven! click it!"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting Lost In The Woods: The Forest Of Depression

For months now I have been struggling with depression, apathy, emotional pain, and felt no energy nor any real desire to do anything. I have posted in my chronic pain blog a few times since June 1, 2012, which is the last date I posted in my stitching blog.I started out 2012 with high hopes and a smoldering need to stitch (not the full on burning intensity of "Gotta do it right NOW!"). I signed up for a few things for the year, WIPocalypse (attempt to complete UFOs so that should the world end [apocalypse] those UFOs would be done) and the TUSAL (Totally Useless Stitch A Long, where you save your left over pieces of thread in a glass container and post a pic at each full moon). I fell out fast on the TUSAL (Feb. 2012 was last I posted my ort jar) and the WIPocalypse stopped in March. I've been mentally kicking myself all year.

I finally got my doctor to actually hear what I had been telling him for months, though he only listened because my DH came with me to the appointment on March 5. Thanks to my DH being present, a cat scan was ordered and the Dr. agreed to fill out the necessary paperwork for me to get a power chair from The Scooter Store. I was also started on Cymbalta which is an anti-depressant that has been shown to help alleviate neuropathic and low back pain in many patients. Thanks to Cymbalta, I did get a significant decrease in the intensity of my pain. I still had pain every day, but could stand for 10 to 15 minutes at a time (instead of the 2 to 7 I was at for a year or so) and when the pain did spike it was nowhere as sharp and intense as it used to be. It still hurt like hell but instead of feeling like someone was stabbing me with a very sharp and large knife, it felt more like someone was hitting me with a slightly giving ball on a stick, more of a thudding type of pain.  As a result I spent many days over the summer going out and doing thing. My friend has a pool at her apartment complex, so we spent many days there with our kids. We went out for dinners and enjoyed hanging out with each other. DH and I accompanied our friends on a weekend away and had an absolute blast! I was constantly amazed by how much better the Cymbalta made my pain, though it didn't do so great on the depression. I still had to fight the apathy etc. and force myself to go out but I succeeded. I even managed to start stitching again somewhere in July or August I think it was, though I didn't get very far, just a few more stitching in the wedding sampler.

A week (I believe it was) after our weekend trip in September the doctor made an error with my Cymbalta script (when the PA upped the dose from 60mg a day to therapeutic level of 120mg a day) and I did not realize it until 2 weeks later when I noticed I only had 5 more doses when I should have had 14. Knowing how impossible it is to get a script corrected or anything else from my doctor's office between visits, I didn't even try calling them. I tried to spread them out by taking one pill every other day, even though I should have been taking  2 pills, twice a day, every day. It didn't take long before I noticed the intensity of my pain returning. With each day that went by with the incorrect and irregular dosing (these meds rely upon a specific blood concentration and that said concentration remain constant in order to work their best) my pain got worse again, mobility dropped, and the depression came back full force. I reverted back to not wanting to do anything but dissociate from the pain and its destruction of my life. Once again I was lost in the dark forest, without so much as a tiny trail, left to wander. Even though I recognized the depression when it came back full force, I didn't care enough to fight it anymore. Mostly because no matter how much I fight it, it always wins in the end and comes back stronger than before, so I just let myself continue wandering, surrounded by the trees of sadness, pain, apathy, complacency, dissociation, lack of emotions, little to no energy and all of that. It felt so dark and I felt like a failure yet again. Yet in some ways it felt like home. It felt comforting, probably because I know that major depression is now a part of me for the rest of my life due to how chronic pain causes chemicals in the brain to go out of whack (norepinephrin, serotonin and more); which causes the depression. For some, who have dealt with this kind of depression for a long time, even curing the pain will not be enough for their brain chemicals to return to normal as their brains now believe the messed up levels are normal. So while I waited for the 6 weeks to pass once I finally got the correct dosage of medication, I hunkered down and hid. Falling down the slippery slope and into the comforting dark of depression.

It felt like home, but it also felt empty. I felt empty, used up, and done. I did try here and there to fight it off, but not very strongly and not for very long. It just felt too hard, like climbing Mount Everest naked, without climbing gear, and greased all over with lard. Not going to get far that way!

So here is where I've spent the majority of 2012, stumbling around in the dark feeling lost, worthless and broken on the few occasions I actually felt anything at all outside of apathy and sad emotions.

If you've read this whole thing, thank you! I really do appreciate it. I know it is very long, but considering I haven't blogged in many months I'm not surprised and there is a lot of ground to cover. I'll end it here for now because I have to go stitch (and I WANT to, which is great to feel!) as I need to finish an exchange I signed up for hoping it would kickstart my stitching mojo again, and it seems to have worked!

Utiil next time, I wish you all happiness, and peace!